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Cover thumbnail for Let Yourself Continue: Social/Political Protest Let Yourself Continue: Social/Political Protest

Social and political activism has been a hallmark of works of art in Grinnell College's collection since its early days, mirroring the College's roots in the Social Gospel Movement of the 19th century. The horror and futility of war, the mendacity and malfeasance of politicians, and the brutality of oppression in all its manifestations remain potent subjects for artists, just as they remain stubbornly intractable problems to resolve.

Dissident, subversive, anti-establishment art deployed as a tool against public corruption and oppression was the passion of Kay Wilson, the Grinnell College Museum of Art’s longtime curator of collections and manager of the Print and Drawing Study Room in Burling Library, who retired in June of this year. She was stalwart in her support of acquisitions of prints by pivotal women artists from Käthe Kollwitz to Adrian Piper, and an advocate for more regional artists such as Virginia Myers, longtime professor of printmaking at the University of Iowa, whose “A Time of Malfeasance,” a portfolio decrying the shame of President Nixon’s Watergate crisis in the early 70s, has such unsettling relevance to our own time.

The Museum of Art's collection has included prints by the German printmaker Käthe Kollwitz since the 1960s, when they were still lesser known in the United States. We added four more in 2001, with the acquisition of the John L. and Roslyn Bakst Goldman Collection of German Expressionist Prints, which itself the Goldmans began building in the 1960s. It grew to number 71 prints by the greatest artists of the movement, Kollwitz being a principal example. Her combination of technical virtuosity, compositional innovation, and emotive power is unsurpassed. Concerned from the beginning with the hardships of the working class and embroiled in the political upheavals of her time, her own life was marked by the death of a son in World War I, a grandson in World War II, and persecution for her own politics at the hands of the Nazis. Her unflinching self-portraits, particularly those from late in life, make her a peer of Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

Kay Wilson's leadership and initiative resulted in our acquisition of "Vanilla Nightmare’s #14", the drawing by Adrian Piper. In pursuit of drawing appropriate for the College’s collection, Kay contacted the artist directly at her studio in Berlin. Due to our past association with South African artists William Kentridge and Diane Victor, as well as a historical resistence to such oppressive regimes as apartheid coursing through the bloodstream of the College, Piper and Kay mutually agreed that this drawing was the one for us. We were proud to lend it to an important retrospective of Piper’s work in 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Showing 1 to 11 of 11 Records

Fat Man and Little Boy

Frances Jetter
21st Century American Print

Die Freiwilligen

Käthe Kollwitz
20th Century German Print

Tod mit Frau im Schoss

Käthe Kollwitz
20th Century Germany Print

Vanilla Nightmares #14

Adrian Piper
Charcoal on newsprint
20th Century American Drawing

Police Museum

Rosalind Fox Solomon (aka Rosiland Fox Solomon)
Gelatin silver print
20th Century American Photograph

La Frontera

Sue Coe
20th Century British (Modern) Print

To Be Or Not To Be Free

Faith Ringgold
21st Century American Print

Showing 1 to 11 of 11 Records

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